People who want to enjoy the many benefits of a healthcare career – strong job demand, personal satisfaction, high salary – but do not want to be a clinician often choose to specialize in healthcare informatics.
Healthcare or health informatics is a relatively new term that describes how data is acquired, stored, retrieved and used in healthcare settings. The purpose of healthcare informatics is to allow for better collaboration among healthcare providers and to provide better, more efficient patient care.
Healthcare informatics is a constantly evolving specialty that provides a vital link of information technology, communications and healthcare to positively affect patients’ lives.
There is tremendous growth occurring in healthcare informatics today due to the acceleration of use of electronic health records or EHRs to maintain patient data. The use of EHRs was mandated several years ago by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
More healthcare providers are using EHRs every year, which allow for patient data to be easily shared electronically and securely among the patient’s healthcare providers. This increasing use of EHRs is driving demand for talented and knowledgeable healthcare informatics professionals.
Earning a healthcare informatics master’s degree can be used to work in these roles:
- Healthcare administrator: This is a type of medical or health services manager who helps to plan, direct and coordinate many types of medical and health related services. A healthcare administrator may manage an entire facility or a certain clinical area or department. A healthcare administrator must work closely with clinical and administrative staff to ensure that patient data is being handled properly and securely and that the department or organization is being run efficiently. You may work as a nursing home administrator, clinical manager or a health information manager, which can also be referred to as a health care informatics manager.
- Clinical informatics specialist: Work with the systems that your organization uses to make medical records digital. You will be overseeing the processes and procedures and also documenting them for staff. Also you will oversee how paper documents are being moved over to digital systems and oversee that process. Many in this role may have clinical experience as a nurse or related healthcare worker.
- Health informatics specialist: You will be in charge of managing data in a healthcare facility or healthcare system. You also will be working on implementing technology in a healthcare system. Many in this role may be responsible for training healthcare and technology staff and coming up with educational documents for various procedures and systems.
Why Earn a Master’s in Healthcare Informatics?
With the push by the federal government to mandate and standardize electronic health records throughout the country, there is much higher demand for workers who can bridge the large gap between clinical care and information technology.
The use of EHRs is very important for many patients because as they age, the vast majority will be seeing more than a single health care professional. Using paper based records to manage medical care and prescriptions is difficult to do safely when there are several healthcare professionals involved.
Also, there are reduced costs involved for healthcare facilities to use EHRs. It is thought that medical errors cost the US economy $38 billion each year. Healthcare informatics professionals can help to cut down on these errors.
EHRs also ensure that a patient will get the correct drug the very first time to reduce any chance of allergic reactions.
These reasons make it much more likely that professionals with a healthcare informatics degree will be hired in the coming years.
Featured Online Healthcare Informatics Programs
You will need to meet these type of requirements to be considered for admission:
- 3.0 minimum GPA, generally
- Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university
- Official college transcripts
- Two recommendations
- Statement of purpose about your education, work experience and future career goals
Curriculum and Courses
If you are considering a master’s degree in healthcare informatics, you would be smart to consider the University of South Florida. You can earn a Master of Science in Healthcare Informatics 100% online, and this university has its own medical school.
Earning your healthcare informatics degree from a university with a prestigious medical school has advantages. You will be learning from faculty medical professionals and IT experts who work daily in healthcare. They have many years of experience in the clinical field and will be able to leverage that experience so that you learn much more about healthcare informatics and how it affects clinical care.
In this two year program, you will learn the following:
- The best ways to acquire, store and interpret information that healthcare professionals need
- Learn how to manage data through relational database systems and the structured query language. Also learn how to work in data warehousing, online analytic processing, and data quality.
- Assess and develop tools that are needed to represent medical data
- Learn how to integrate EHRs with the care for patients and provide better care quality via better management and medical information being more available.
Required classes include:
- Introduction to Health Informatics
- Foundation in Management Information Systems
- e-Medicine Business Models
- Integrated Electronic Medical Records
- Managerial Communications
- Legal Aspects of Health Information Management
- Case Studies in Health Information Management
- e-Healthcare Ethics
- Health Data Management
Careers and Job Titles
Some of the job titles you may have with this master’s are:
- Healthcare informatics manager or director
- Data integrity manager
- Clinical data specialist
- Patient information manager
- Chief knowledge officer
- Director of information management
Job and Salary Outlook
- Healthcare Administrator — Job demand in this field will rise by 17% by 2024. This is much faster than average. As more baby boomers are retiring and people are staying active longer in life, the healthcare industry is going to see more demand for medical services. There will be more demand naturally for administrators skills in healthcare informatics to handle the increase in patients and patient data. Median pay is $94,500.
- Database Administrator — These professionals use special software to store and organize data. Some professionals with healthcare informatics degrees may work as database administrators in a healthcare facility. This field will see 11% increase in job demand by 2024, and 7% increase in demand in medical facilities specifically. Pay is $81,000 per year.
- Network and Computer Administrator — Employment in this field will rise by 8% by 2024. There will be an increased need for these professionals in many medical and healthcare facilities as demand for healthcare services rise. Some network and computer administrators have a background in healthcare informatics and this makes them in strong demand in the healthcare field. Median salary is $77,800.
Scholarships and Grants
- AHIMA Foundation: This health informatics organization wants to attract new talent in the healthcare informatics field, so it provides scholarships every year for those who are getting a bachelor’s or master’s degree in this field. You can get a master’s scholarship worth $2000 per year.
- HIMSS Foundation: This is another foundation dedicated to health informatics that offers scholarships each year to worthy students.
- American Medical Informatics Association: This association represents the interests of healthcare and medical informatics professionals across the US.
- CAHIM: This is the independent accrediting organization for healthcare informatics education programs in the United States. You should confirm if your master’s program has been accredited by this leading organization.